Shveytsov: "Don and Kuban regions are leaders in the Russian Federation in the agricultural machinery fleet renewal"

Alexey Shveytsov, First Deputy General Director of Rostselmash, discusses the wear of agricultural machinery in the South, the impact of digitalization on fleet renewal and YugAgro Exhibition potential

The sanctions and the geopolitical situation have made agricultural machinery one of the most import-dependent areas of the agro-industrial complex. As of today, the service life of more than 50% of the agricultural machinery fleet in use has ended. And the shortage of tractors and combines amounts to 27% and 15% of the existing fleet, respectively. The risks faced by farmers include unprecedented total yields, huge harvest reserves at the end of the year, negative dynamics of export prices, and negative dynamics of domestic grain prices. During the "Strong Russia: how does the village ensure the country's food security today and in the future?" Plenary Session at the YugAgro 2023 exhibition in Krasnodar, experts, representatives of government and agribusiness concluded that all the above mentioned factors reduce the farmers' capability to purchase the machinery.

At the same time, the southern regions turned out to be among the leaders in renewal of agricultural machinery fleets in the Russian Federation. Alexey Shveytsov, First Deputy General Director of Rostselmash, told RBC TV Yug at the YugAgro 2023 exhibition how digitalization and staff impact the fleet renewal rates.

Alexey Shveytsov, Rostselmash

In your opinion, what is the current state of domestic agricultural machinery in Russia in general and in the South of the country in particular?

The Krasnodar Territory is in the top five in terms of the machinery fleet renewal. This is showing in the results of the farming season. Concerning our direct participation in this process, over the past five years Rostselmash has brought about 1.3 thousand units of self-propelled machinery to the Kuban market. This is a high figure. It is about 20% of the fleet renewal over five years. As for the South in general, the Rostov Region supplies amounted to about 2.7 thousand machines, but the fleet there is about 40% larger than in Kuban. Accordingly, to date, the supplies there are larger. 25% is the renewal in the Rostov Region, and together with the Krasnodar Territory they are the leaders in the Russian Federation.

Alexey Shveytsov

Rostselmash company itself has always been represented in the South. The market share is quite large. I will not give these figures, but in the context of 1,300 machines within five years, this is almost 250–300 machines every year, as a matter of fact. So it turns out that if each machine harvests about 2 thousand ha per year, then every year it is 600 thousand ha of harvested fields. The useful life of a machine is about ten years, and after that it should be included in the fleet renewal program.

Ministry of Agriculture of the Krasnodar Territory carefully monitors this situation.

On saturation of the market

Is the supply of agricultural machinery to the southern farmers sufficient today? Are there any difficulties in this field?

There were certain difficulties in 2022. Rostselmash had to replace suppliers of 6 thousand parts of assemblies. We produce 150 models of machinery. In 2022, we worked in depth on this issue and now we either manufacture them ourselves or cooperate with Russian and loyal friendly suppliers from other countries. First of all, I mean the Republic of Belarus. In the Russian Federation, this is 80% of the demand that we has replaced as of today. Yes, it is necessary to carry out preparation of the production. It has always been expensive. Prices for a number of components have risen, but I think that with time and development of technology, improvement of quality, the price issues will be mitigated.

agricultural machinery exhibition 2024, YugAgro 2024
agricultural machinery exhibition in Krasnodar 2024, YugAgro

Is it fair to say that farmers can easily find any machinery in the market today?

We produce combines of the classes from 3 to 8 — from 150 hp to 510 hp, and we have machines above 720 hp already in the pipeline. These machines are currently being tested. Tractors are fully Russian-made. We have mastered the production of gearboxes, final reduction gears. At the moment, engine suppliers are either YaMZ (Yaroslavl Motor Plant — note by RBC Rostov), or KAMAZ. And we have a certain number of partners in China, so there are no problems with the provision of either spare parts or service maintenance at the moment. This is what has been done in two years. Yes, we have ensured and multiplied supplies — we are expecting 40% plus to the scope of 2021. A 40% growth for tractors, and the same proportion for combines. Development of high-performance machinery is underway. For instance, last year our machine was tested in the fields of the Oryol Region, by Schelkovo Agrohim company, where the yield reached 100 centners. The TORUM 785 combine harvested more than 400 tons in eight hours — this is almost 50 tons per hour; it seems fair to say that it is a world record for a machine of this class.

As for tractors, we will completely replace the machines of the so—called "thousandth" class by 2025. These are certain eights. Capacity of such a model varies from 270 to 370 hp. Thus, from 2025, we will fully supply tractors to the Russian market to meet the needs of all agricultural producers. By 2026, Rostselmash will produce tractors with the capacity starting from 170 hp. Hence, the entire niche of tractors with the capacity from170 hp to 600 hp and above will be occupied by Rostselmash.

On the industry digitalization

In your opinion, what will agricultural machinery be like in the near future? Where is the progress going to in this field?

Digitalization is in full swing. In any case, it applies to heavy-duty and high-performance equipment. Fields are also being prepared for this. Besides, we see the yield increase this year. It is the second largest harvest by volumes and total yield in the Russian Federation ever recorded. Definitely, the agricultural producers will not stop there. The yield growth is serious, in some areas it has already exceeded 100 centners — this is a very high indicator. That's why farmers need high-performance machinery. And we are not talking about three or four small combines here. It should be one combine, which will replace three others.

Does this mean that the number of required employees will be reduced?

I would say that highly likely it will not. The crews are already working in automatic mode. One person can operate several machines, but nowadays, at the legislative level certain work is in progress in this direction.

The skills of the personnel who maintain the machinery will be increased. A tractor must be operated by a highly qualified machine operator, almost an engineer.

The machine prompts the operator on the required actions, and the operator's task is to monitor the devices and use the equipment provided in the most effective manner.

We have these programs, and we certainly provide possibility of training before selling the machinery. But the machines are quite complex in terms of their outfitting. You need to understand what the machine says, you need to keep up with it and show the results that the machine operator and the machine deserve.

agricultural machinery exhibition 2024, YugAgro 2024
agricultural machinery exhibition in Krasnodar 2024, YugAgro

How do you evaluate your participation in YugAgro? How productive was your work?

It is apparent that the number of parties paying close attention to the requirements for agricultural machinery manufacturers has increased considerably. The exhibition is really international: a large number of visitors from other countries. And these are not only the neighboring countries or the CIS. Representatives of Latin America, Africa, Asian countries, Central Asia, and the Middle East are here. We have already met with our colleagues from Egypt. It is especially important that the product can be displayed prominently, and the opportunity to do this in real time is wonderful. This is a world-class exhibition, so I think it will expand.

Please, tell us about further plans of Rostselmash development. When do you plan to launch new plants?

A plant for the production of automatic and mechanical transmission systems, axles and gearboxes for tractors, combines and road construction machinery is being commissioned. A new tractor plant for 5,000 units is ready for commissioning too. We plan to launch it in February of 2024; we are currently making the required adjustments to the conveyor lines and processes. Starting from February, we will be able to produce 16 units of tractors per day. And the third is a plant for production of towed agricultural and utility machinery and its attachments in Taganrog. That is, towed equipment and attachments for agricultural machinery and sprayers: self-propelled and towed. 150 thousand square meters have already been launched in full, production is in progress. 1.5 thousand specialists were invited to this plant to manage the production. The investments exceeded 30 billion roubles.

The 31st International Exhibition of Agricultural Machinery, Equipment and Materials for Crop Production YugAgro will be held on 19-22 November 2024 at the Expograd Yug Exhibition Complex, Krasnodar. Read the terms and conditions of participation and join YugAgro 2024.